Home NewsLiberia Bridging equity gap in the teaching workforce, Edu. Ministry trains teachers, principals

Bridging equity gap in the teaching workforce, Edu. Ministry trains teachers, principals

by Maximilian K. Kasseh jr

KAKATA, MARGIBI COUNTY, LIBERIA-The Ministry of Education has graduated hundreds of teachers and principals at the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute.

The program climaxed a year-long training program across eleven counties, with support from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the World Bank.

The Ministry graduated about three-hundred ECE and primary teachers and principals to commence a series of graduation programs in the Northwestern, Central and Southeastern regions. Of the three-hundred-sixty-five ECE and primary teachers, four-hundred-eighty-five principals graduated this month across the three regions.

Serving as keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony, Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) superintendent, Isaac Zarwolo, cautioned graduates to be innovative in their teachings, adding that innovative teaching will propel students to be major contributors to nation building.

He added that teachers must now graduate from what he described as a traditional method of teaching to a more innovative and transformative approach.

Speaking on the topic: “Teaching for Transformation”, highlighted among other things, four key points that would make the graduates contribute to the transformation of the teaching workforce, the MCSS Superintendent said teaching with an unrelenting passion, planning effectively, knowing your students and being creative are crucial to revamping the Country’s education system.

Mr. Zarwolo, a long-time educator, also used his personal experience to drive graduates’ unceasing interest in education, stressing that teachers are unique, and their contributions to nation building can never be overemphasized, while admonishing them to be driven by passion.

“We live in a resource-constrained country, so complaining will not solve the problems. Therefore, you will have to be innovative in finding close substitutes to solve competing problems”. He admonished the graduates to apply the knowledge and skills acquired from the training well. These will include strong community engagements and collaboration with education stakeholders, effective Parent-Teacher Association (PTA among others. Government cannot do all by itself; explore opportunities at the community level”, He added.

Also speaking, the Project Coordinator of Getting to Best in Education Project, Joe K. Gbasakollie, said: “Liberia’s perennial problem of unqualified teachers is fast becoming a history.  It is an open secret that Liberia’s education sector faces numerous challenges, including inadequately trained and inequitable distribution of teachers. The  2017 Ministry of Education Teacher Verification and Testing report indicate that forty-percent of primary school teachers do not possess the minimum required knowledge of English needed to be an effective teacher at the primary level, and the distribution of qualified teachers in Liberia is also inequitable, with regions having economic advantage also getting more, and higher qualified teachers.”

“The GPE-funded Getting to Best in Education Project (G2B) was launched in 2018, to address the problem of teachers, especially in the six disadvantaged counties (Bomi, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland, and River Gee).

As a target, the Ministry of Education needed to ensure that 60% of ECE and primary teachers are qualified in the project’s original intervention counties over four years from a baseline of 45.77%.  The Ministry has already overachieved this target as at end of year three (June 30, 2021) of the project.

According to an independent verification report, the proportion of qualified ECE and primary teachers in the six targeted counties has reached 69%. Qualification as defined by the Government is a teacher possessing a minimum of C-certificate for the ECE or primary grade level he or she teaches. The in-service programs are offered over the course of the academic year and include semester breaks for duration of approximately one calendar year.

The In-service C-Certificate training programs for school principals, primary and ECE teachers, are modeled on the Ministry’s existing C-Certificate teacher training program but is designed to be completed without requiring principals and teachers to miss school days. Each training program involves a total of 900 clock hours, 300 in person with Master Trainers and 600 school leaders or teachers practice hours. The principal training covered eight modules, including the following topics: Enabling Environment, Leading and Managing Schools, Teaching and Learning Materials, Instruction and On-Site Supervision, Partnership and Collaboration, Ethical Leadership, Effective School Leaders, and Self-study and reflection. For the Primary and ECE programs, the training covered foundations, child development, ECD STEPS 1-8, ECD and primary pedagogy and contents, and teaching practices

Overall, the Ministry has trained 736 ECE and primary teachers (36% female) across nine (9)     counties, including the first original six (6) counties, and 876 principals (19% female) across eleven (11) counties under the G2B project. The first cohort of training adapted a capacity-building approach where external service providers work with the three Government’s Rural Teacher Training Institutes (RTTIs) to deliver on the training. The three institutions are the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI), the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI), the Webbo Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI). The second cohort was solely managed by the RTTIs” He added.

In a brief remark, the Assistant Minister for Teacher Education, Gayflor Washington, said:” Despite the constrained fiscal environment and challenges associated with these training programs, the RTTIs were able to successfully conduct the second cohort of training.”

Minister Washington hailed partners for the sustained support provided to education over the years, adding that the Government of Liberia has committed US$2.8M to the MOE to regularize the salaries of over 4,000 underpaid volunteer teachers. According to him, US$1Million of this amount has been disbursed. To date, Government has employed over six-hundred volunteer teachers.

Speaking on behalf of the directors of the Rural Teacher Training Institute (RTTI) Director Mr. George Kpenneh lauded the effort of the Government of Liberia, and in particular the Ministry of Education for making the dream of an effective in-service teacher and principal training programs realized.

“We are grateful first for the visionary leadership of Prof. Dao Ansu Sonii, Sr. and the Senior Management Team of the Ministry, and the GPE for the funding support. Our thanks and appreciation go to our hard-working master trainers and administrators of the three RTTIs for making this graduation possible. We appreciate the great collaboration and coordination with the Getting to Best Project Delivery Team headed by Joe K. Gbasakollie. Mr. Kpenneh said these trainings are key to effective classroom management.

The graduates were full of praise for the manner and form in which the training was conducted. Below are some testimonials collected:

“The training was okay, and the manuals were very rich. I was able to understand my modules, which I think will help me a lot in working with the community and other colleagues at the school, as it relates to improving learning outcomes through school leadership and management”. Principal Anneta L. Taylor – Sackie Gbomoh Public School Bong Mines Road, Margibi County

“The training was very educative, and we thank God for our trainers, because they really helped us to understand the lessons the easiest way. I also want to ask that this training be spread all over the country, so that others that were not opportune to benefit will be able to benefit and our children will be taught the proper way”.

Teacher Benjamin D. Tarr – Chippy Memorial Public School, Grand Bassa County 

“The training was very good. We learned a lot of things that we never knew. We had very good trainers that made us grasp every topic and skill in planning a lesson. Using the teacher planners help us greatly to understand integration and procedures. We were also taught how to make our own copybooks and play materials as ECE teachers”.

Teacher Cynthia H. Tarr – Jenneh Public School, Bomi County

“The training was fine. We did all the four courses. We did foundations and classroom management. Our teachers did extremely well with the presentation and made us to understand each of the topics that were taught. The trainers also gave us many learning materials.

Teacher Akin Z. Beggs – Tompoe Pub School, Rivercess

The training activities are part of the Liberia Getting to Best in Education (G2B) Project implementation, which includes increasing access to and quality of ECE through school grants provision and provision of community based ECE services; School Quality Standards, monitoring and inspection; and achieving better learning through improved equity, efficiency, and accountability. The G2B is a 5-year project which became effective on June 25, 2018, and will end on June 30, 2023. The World Bank is the Grant.

By: Emmanuel Kollie

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